Microsoft and State of Washington Spook Scareware Fiends

Dennis Faas's picture

Tired of those messages kindly informing you that "YOUR REGISTRY IS DAMAGED" or "YOUR SYSTEM IS CORRUPTED"? That kind of practice is commonly referred to as "scareware" in the tech industry, and those companies that employ it are regarded as the least reliable software firms. Thankfully, industry powerhouse Microsoft and the State of Washington continue their full-on campaign determined to root out and destroy scareware firms.

According to a statement issued Monday, the Washington State Attorney General's office announced another lawsuit in a joint campaign with Microsoft that has lasted for three years now. Targeted this time is the Texas-based maker of Registry Cleaner XP, a program that emphatically warns users, "Your registry is corrupted -- click here to find out how to fix it". James Reed McCreary IV, whose southern companies produce Registry Cleaner XP, will face the brunt of the lawsuit. (Source:

How does Registry Cleaner XP work?

McCreary's sneaky program tricks users with messages like "REGISTRY DAMAGED AND CORRUPTED" after which they're asked to spend $39.95 for a program promising to solve the issue. Problem is, users' computers aren't actually corrupted and there's no way McCreary's company could know that they were -- it's kind of like a mechanic flagging down vehicles so that he can charge them for replacing their "Johnson rod" (yes, that's a nod to 'Seinfeld').

Rob McKenna, Washington's State Attorney General, argues that his office and Microsoft won't stop the campaign until scareware is a thing of the past. "We won't tolerate the use of alarmist warnings or deceptive 'free scans' to trick consumers into buying software to fix a problem that doesn't even exist," he said. (Source:

Thankfully, most web sites -- including -- don't engage in these kinds of practices. It's one thing to suggest a particular program, but something altogether different to give users the impression that they haven't a choice.

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